Apollos of Alexandria

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Apollos was a well-educated man from the city of Alexandria in Egypt. He was well acquainted with the Old Testament scriptures and was familiar with John the Baptist’s teachings. In the middle of the first century A.D. he came to the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor where he began to teach in the synagogue “the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John”.

Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, were followers of Jesus in Ephesus and they heard Apollos speaking. They took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately, teaching him more about the Christ, the cross, the resurrection, and Spirit of God. After this, Apollos went to preach in Achaia, having been highly recommended by the Ephesian Christians. He was very effective in presenting the claims of Christ to the Jews. You can read of these things in the book of Acts 18:24-28.

Luke tells us that Apollos was in Corinth (Acts 19:1) where we understand he was also useful in “watering” the spiritual seed which Paul had planted (1 Corinthians 3:6). He was obviously a skilled teacher of the word of God and much appreciated by the believers there. Unfortunately, many of the Corinthian believers became so attached to him that they allowed a schism to form within the assembly, with some taking Apollos’ side, some Paul’s, some Peter’s and there was confusion (1 Corinthians 1:12). It is obvious that Apollos did not encourage this party feeling, as seen by the approving way Paul speaks of him and by the fact that Apollos did not want to return to Corinth when he was with Paul at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:12).

Apart from these references and what we read in 1 Corinthians 3:22; 4:6 and Titus 3:13, nothing more is known of Apollos.

Here was an eloquent man who used his gift to teach fervently the ways of God. Initially what he taught was incomplete but, having heard him, Aquila and Priscilla encouraged his service. They did not despise Apollos or undermine him before others. Having themselves received knowledge of the good news of Jesus from Paul, they expounded to Apollos the way of God more perfectly — by informing him that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, whose coming John had announced, and had himself pointed him out as the Christ to his disciples. They possibly told Apollos of the supernatural conception of the Son of God; of the teaching, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus; and perhaps taught him how he had proved himself to be the Christ, as John had foretold.

Younger Christians will learn a great deal in conversation with older Christians. Who knows, the younger might also teach the older? As long as we live we may all still need help from time to time understanding the things of God more fully. As long as we are in this world, we may find something lacking in our faith to be perfected. Teachers of God’s Word should always be willing to be taught. Our business is to preach Christ. Not only to teach the truth, but to prove and defend it, with gentleness, yet with power and conviction. To understand this spirit, take another look at Apollos.

Mark Hill

BiBloS 02-July 2015 smallThis article is from BiBloS, a teaching resource of the British Bible School. To read more articles or download the whole of Issue 2, click here.